You know that line in As Good As It Gets? Helen Hunt says "Why can't I have a normal boyfriend? Just a regular boyfriend, one that doesn't go nuts on me!" and her mom says "Everybody wants that, dear. It doesn't exist. " Women nod and smile when they hear this line because, in a way, it's true. It doesn't exist, except in the movies.
OK, clarification: Plenty of people have normal boyfriends. Lots of my friends have normal boyfriends and husbands. My point is that in the movies, boyfriends/husbands are either wack job serial killers, wisecracking sidekicks or so incredibly perfect that they ruin it for all the perfectly sweet, somewhat normal men out there. You know, the way Halle Berry and Jessica Alba have ruined it for so many of us perfectly nice, somewhat normal women. I've been thinking about this a lot because I spent Saturday night with one of these incredibly perfect men. His name is Lloyd Dobler. Yes, that Lloyd Dobler. Trench coat wearing, kickboxing (sport of the future), boom box blasting Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes to win back the girl he loves Lloyd Dobler of Say Anything . OK, maybe you don't think Lloyd is perfect. He's a character in a movie, so he's not even real. But think about it for a minute. Think about all the little things he does. He writes her a letter after they make love for the first time and all it says is "Dear Diane. I'll always be there for you. All the love in my heart, Lloyd." Simple. Perfect. The kind of letter we all dream of receiving. And guess what. Even after she gives him the pen, he's still there for her. (If you haven't seen this movie and have no idea what I'm talking about, go watch it right NOW, if only to see Eric Stolz in a chicken suit). Basically, John Cusack in this movie ruins it for every normal guy out there.
You know who ruins it more? Jake Ryan. Fair-Isle sweater vest wearing, Porche driving, undies retrieving Jake Ryan. Jake Ryan who leaves the Carolyn none of us could have ever been in high school for the Samantha we all were and probably still are. How bad do women have it for Jake Ryan? There's a whole Washington Post article about it. Seriously. There's even an "I heart Jake Ryan" t-shirt. I have one. I wear it proudly. But only around the house. Ever since I wore it out once and the kid (OK, he was 25) at the pizza place asked "Who's Jake Ryan?" I haven't had the strength to wear it out.
OK, so while those are probably the top two culprits, there are plenty more where those came from in the movies. It just depends on your taste. Here are some other "ruiners" I could watch all night long (in no particular order).
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), Singing in the Rain: We should all be so in love we dance in a downpour.
Paul Varjak (George Peppard), Breakfast at Tiffany's: Another guy who looks great standing in a downpour. Also, he's a writer and he's beautiful.
Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck), To Kill a Mockingbird: A good father, a good lawyer, a great man.
CK Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), The Philadelphia Story: It takes a real man to create an elaborate ruse just to win his girl back.
Macauly "Mike" Conner (Jimmy Stewart), The Philadelphia Story: How did Katharine Hepburn ever choose?
Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), Bull Durham: "I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days." Me too! What a coincidence!
I could go on here. I didn't even mention Day-Lewis and Clooney (if you know my track record, you know it goes without saying). Is it unrealistic? Totally. Do I care? Not so much these days. Nope. You know the song Where the Boys Are? For me, the boys are on Turner Classic Movies, American Movie Classics, and about seven other movie channels. And that's as good as it gets.